New and improved technologies are all around in the water sector. Translating these into better end results for utilities and other end-users is another matter. Keith Hayward looks at a selection of the different approaches that are being taken to deliver innovation in water.
There are any number of drivers, opportunities and motivations for innovation in the water sector. Hard requirements such as tougher legislation can mean that change is needed. Commercial solutions providers push for new approaches to be taken up in order to build their businesses. Utilities may be looking to improve the service they deliver within limited budget constraints. Whatever the reason, innovation is a theme that resounds with the water sector – not least because of the extent to which it remains elusive.
There can be some very fundamental issues that call out for innovation. Take Scottish Water, the public utility serving some five million people in Scotland. George Ponton is Head of Research and Innovation with the utility. He explains that the customers and the asset base are spread across a wide area ranging from cities to remote islands. Alongside this, the utility has a universal service and universal price model. ‘In terms of asset base, 90% of the population is served by 10% of the assets in water and wastewater, which leaves an awful lot of assets providing water and wastewater services to very small communities,’ he says. This presents big challenges in terms of cost and of availability of staff. ‘There are some big drivers there for innovation,’ he adds.
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